Peterson Automotive Museum

On Wilshire Boulevard, in the heart of the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles, stands the Petersen Automotive Museum. The Petersen Automotive Museum is a nonprofit institution dedicated to preserving and sharing vehicle history and related educational programming with the public.

The Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation owns and operates the $40 million Petersen Automotive Museum, which was founded in June 1994 by magazine editor Robert E. Petersen and his wife Margie. Formerly housed in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the museum relocated to a historic department store by Welton Becket. After opening in 1962 as a Seibu Department Stores outpost in the United States, the building housed Ohrbach’s from 1965 until 1986. Robert Petersen, six years after Ohrbach’s closed, decided that the building’s lack of windows made it a perfect location for a museum, as it would protect the items from the damaging effects of direct sunshine.

The museum invested $125 million towards a massive makeover that was completed in 2015. Kohn Pedersen Fox, the architects, remodeled the building’s exterior by installing a stainless steel ribbon assembly consisting of 100 tons of 14-gauge type 304 steel in 308 pieces, 25 supports, and 140,000 bespoke stainless steel screws. The interior rooms at The Scenic Route were designed to be flexible so that they could house rotating displays. In December 2015, the newly renovated museum reopened to the public.

In its twenty-five exhibit halls, the museum showcases more than a hundred automobiles. The other fifty percent is stored in a safe in the building’s basement. Visitors must be 18 or older and pay an additional fee to see the vault collection. The first floor is dedicated to the art of the automobile and features a collection of lavish vehicles. Industrial engineering, which encompasses design, performance, and a variety of hands-on educational exhibits, is the primary focus of the second level. Motorsports, motorbikes, hot rods, and customs are just a few of the industries highlighted by the special displays on the show floor. The third floor tells the tale of cars throughout time, with an emphasis on the Southern California car subculture.

In April 2011, Margie Petersen and the Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation donated $100 million to the museum. This included cash, the property the museum was leasing, and many of the Petersens’ automobiles. Among the automobiles, auto-related artifacts, and displays are: A large-scale Porsche exhibition featuring one of just two surviving examples of the legendary 1939 Porsche 64. A retrospective of the Japanese automobile industry, with numerous examples of classic and contemporary Japanese automobiles on display.

A display of kid-sized electric race cars.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
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